The Woodpile

It consisted

of oak and maple and walnut

stacked six rows high

against the barbed wire fence.

It was uneven

and slanted toward the ground, a slide

for loose bark and branches

that failed to hold their place.

Its nooks and crevices were filled

with acorns and leaves,

a squirrel's offering

to the citadel that guarded

the hollow of its home.

It was a rock cliff for Rambo to scale,

with a makeshift

grappling hook made

of twine and paperclips,

wrapped around his scratched

and dented body,

scars from his exploits in the garden

and warfare on the lawn.

At other times, in the fall,

a hiding place for G.I. Joes,

crammed behind bark walls

plastered together with mud

while my brother took

potshots with his BB gun.

And then later,

Purple Hearts and match-box

funerals when the metal ball

found its mark,

snapped twigs forming

tiny rows of markers

beneath the shadow

of the log barricade,

their final resting place.

And then winter would come,

settle over the house like

a heavy fog that needs the warmth

of the sun before it can retreat

back into the grey-capped sky.

Day by day, as smoke curled

from the chimney,

the woodpile would sink

further into the forked maple

it leaned against

until nothing was left

save a few broken slivers

of wood and a pile

of rotting, frozen leaves.